You are strange.
I do not know you,
maybe have never met you,
maybe never will,
don't have the faintest inkling of all the tiny little details that go into a normal day of your life.
and I love you automatically for it.
You have memorized the smells of all of your friends' houses but are frustrated
because you are so used to the smell of your own that you can't identify it,
but so badly want to know what people smell when they think of you
that you try anyways.
The staircase is right in front of your door, and is in a partial spiral.
There are carpet squares on each step, except for the seventh from the top,
where your little brother tore it away because he'd run out of paper and wanted to draw dinosaurs.
You set the password to your social media everywhere to "Rabbit" because it was the name of your cat
who didn't even stick around for long enough for you to figure out that you really couldn't name one species after another,
and you feel like that's a reflection of your life.
Constantly missing opportunities because the things and people that might offer them just disappear in time.
No one knows this.
Not even your parents.
Your own inside joke and release of the floodgate of so much existential doubt,
and you see it every time you log into Instagram.
You have your morning routine worked out to perfection,
because if you get one tiny little bit of it wrong,
your mother will leave without driving you
and you will have to run to the bus stop
and not only will you miss the bus,
you'll be too tired to do a good job in cross country.
If you don't eat breakfast quickly,
your whole day falls apart.
But you don't worry about this.
You're not a worrier.
Everyone you know—
all of your friends—
You don't get what's so scary.
Your grades are all Cs and Ds and the occasional F,
but it doesn't bother you much,
because sometime middle school will be over and it won't matter.
Nothing's going to matter unless you make it matter,
and you're determined not to let this matter.
You don't worry—
you're not a worrier.
You're just a wonderer.
The first thing you do when you get home is take off your shoes,
which are muddy because your road is dirt and never quite dries,
and you walk home unless it's below fourteen degrees precisely.
(Mom's rule, because she believes a little hypothermia is good for everyone.)
After you've done that, you say hello to your dog,
who is trying to lick your face even though her claws can't get a purchase on your slick winter coat.
After that, you go sit on the couch and sob for the entire twenty minutes before your mother gets home.
It's all just too much,
and when other people are jabbering around you, living their lives
and tying you up in them,
you can forget.
Then, the moment you're alone,
the bottom falls out of the world and you don't know what to do.
Your dog wags her tail hopefully in the direction of your face as you sit there weeping,
unaware in her constant canine bliss of the fact that her owner is unhappy,
but hoping you might take her out for a walk.
You envy her carelessness.
You used to be a poet,
but in third grade your friend introduced you to a songwriting software
and suddenly you decided to be a songwriter instead.
You got more caught up in the music,
and gradually thought less and less of poetry.
You're determined to be rich and famous one day,
and you want the entire world to listen to your songs.
You're convinced that you'll have created something phenomenal by the end of this year
despite the fact you're only in fifth grade,
and know that you'll be a known creator by middle school.
That's what you tell yourself, anyway.
But deep on the inside,
in the place where your words and songs can't penetrate,
you know that this is the way it always starts.
You always think you'll be successful this time,
and you're always embarrassed,
and you know that all this ambition is a substitute
for all of the people you won't admit you need.
Nobody else can see this is the reality.
Why can't they see it?
Why don't they all know,
and why don't they stop you before you humiliate yourself again?
You try to interpret the world by writing it all down,
but the older you get,
the more your words are squeezed out of you into some abyss
that some people might call "time-crunch."
You're bursting with stories,
but as time goes on you lose the time ad incentive to write them.
You're an expert at temporarily forgetting—
at setting up a shelter of words and music and maybe the occasional BBC television show
to barricade the worries,
but every once in a while you have to think about your existence,
and the idea of any change terrifies you
if you pay it any attention.
You get more and more negative as time passes
and you're scared of negativity
because you know that there is a section of your mind that lives in the present
and another section that watches and rationally says,
You know you'll think this is ridiculous before long.
But the living-in-the-present side always wins,
and when you lose interest in whatever it was this time,
your rational mind smirks and says, Told you so.
You never listen to it until it's too late,
and from the rational part of your mind,
or maybe the irrational one,
you're scared of what you might do or think or decide.
You're scared of everything,
and apart from your barricade of words,
you're not sure what you like to do
or what you want.
You won't let yourself feel anything unless you have a logical excuse for it,
and sometimes you catch yourself thinking that,
sure, these things will matter in the future,
but what about now?
Shouldn't I try to do good now? To at least be happy? Won't that matter in the future?
One of you
The rest of you
but not strange,
because each of you is a little bit like me
and I am a little bit
like each of you.
I love the tiny details of your lives.
What order you do your homework in—math, first, or science?
What do you reply when your sister teases you?
Do you hate brushing your teeth
because it's just so laborious to drag yourself out bed at midnight and work the electric toothbrush
over your braces?
You are complete strangers in those tiny details,
but yet I also know you.
And because I know you,
because I can imagine you,
you are strange.
I have never met you, any of you, besides me.
And for that reason, I love you.
You are strange.